The Premier League's US Instagram account @PLinUSA celebrates the passionate, diverse PL fandom from coast to coast in the series Premier League passion in the US: Fans' stories.
Meet Wesley, or "Big Wes" as the Nottingham Forest faithful famously know him. No, not former Forest defender Wes Morgan, who went on to win the Premier League title with Leicester City, but an Atlanta sports fan with no ties to the beautiful game.
A connection, or lack thereof, that changed Wesley’s life on October 28, 2011.
“Years ago, I was mistaken for Wes Morgan, who they referred to in Nottingham as ‘Big Wes'.
“He was about to play his 400th match for Forest and all these fans started tweeting congratulations at my Twitter handle, Big Wes. I was like, 'What in the world are you guys talking about?'
“At that time, I was an NFL fan all my life, so I was basically one of those Southern anti-soccer snobs. 'What’s that game that you kick the ball around all day?'
“However, I became acquainted with Tony and Pete following the initial mix-up, two Nottingham Forest fans who got together and bought a bunch of Forest merchandise to send over to me in America.
“It was that kind of thing where they saw this goofy American and decided to envelop me, make me a part of the family. My social media following skyrocketed and I quickly became an honorary Forest fan.
”Not too long after, BBC Radio Nottingham, ESPN and other media outlets called to share my story about listening to matches on the radio to eventually taking my first trip to City Ground as a VIP guest in 2015.
Here's @bigwes putting the finishing touches to his #NFFC shirt before the game. You Reds! pic.twitter.com/FlL7yBsN5c— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) October 3, 2015
“My wife and I have been there three times now and I still haven’t gotten used to the reception we get. I managed to gain this minor celebrity status, with people of all ages walking up and asking for an autograph.
“We went to Goose Fair and a policeman walks up asking if I’m the ‘Big Wes chap from America’, and we took a photo together.
Crazy day filming with @bigwes. He shed a tear when he first saw inside the CG! He says #nffc has changed his life! pic.twitter.com/AjQnT4TaAc— Natalie Jackson (@NatJacksonsport) October 3, 2015
“I think it’s fair to say that I’m probably the exception to the online interactions rule, right?
“Forest fans have opened themselves up to me. I’ve had people in my house, stuff that you would normally tell somebody not to do with people that you met online.
“I’ve been the recipient of way more love than I ever expected, all because of a club in Nottingham.”
The man is an absolute legend. I will be smiling until October. #nffc #wesmeetwes Thanks again @Wes5L1nk pic.twitter.com/aQS6anfBXn— Wesley Hall (@bigwes) July 23, 2015